Turkish Cypriot leader says UN talks conditional on seeking two-state solution

President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Ersin Tatar called for fresh United Nations-sponsored talks on the future of the divided island, but said he will only participate if negotiations are focused on a two-state solution.

Sporadic United Nations-led peace negotiations for Cyprus, which span decades, have been based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation. Tatar made the comments after meeting with Jane Hole Lute, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ personal envoy to Cyprus, on Monday, Yenidüzen newspaper reported.

“We will pursue an agreement on the basis of sovereign equality within a two-state solution framework where we can live side by side,” he said.

Tatar said a five-party conference with the guarantor powers for Cyprus - Greece, Turkey and Great Britain - could be held in late February or early March, Yenidüzen reported.

“From now on, the basis of an agreement is and has to be a two-state solution. Remaining formulas are nothing but a waste of time,” Tatar said. “The U.N. parameters concerning Cyprus should have been reconsidered, after 50 years of failure.”

Tatar said he was managing the process of negotiations on the island’s future with Turkey.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded in response to a Greek nationalist coup. A succession of talks to reunite the island have failed over disagreements on core issues, including the presence of thousands of Turkish soldiers in the north.

The Mediterranean island has recently become the focus of a dispute over rights to tap hydrocarbon reserves in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey, the only country to formally recognise northern Cyprus as a state, has opposed unilateral drilling by the Greek Cypriot-controlled Republic of Cyprus in the south, and has sent ships to search for oil and natural gas around the island.